Will Margate Renew High-Rise Efforts Near Lucy the Elephant?

What’s the REAL reason behind the Margate Mayor’s effort to grab control of Lucy The Elephant? We’re pretty sure it’s NOT Mayor Becker’s desire to run an attraction, snack bar or gift shop.

Rather, we think Margate politicians and their hand-picked planning board want easier developer access to this prime beachfront property.

The clock is ticking. Just a few months left on the current lease between Lucy and the City of Margate. The current lease is set to expire at the end of this year, on Dec. 31, 2019.

Will Lucy The Elephant come to terms with the City? According to multiple sources, and contrary to what city-sanctioned media is posting, both parties are still far from an agreement.

FACT: For decades, the Save Lucy Committee (SLC) worked to keep Lucy off the scrap heap. Condemned by local leadership. The City of Margate wanted absolutely nothing to do with Lucy.

Margate Once Condemned Lucy

First question: who exactly ‘owns’ Lucy the Elephant? We’re placing our bet that it’s the Save Lucy Committee. At one time, Mayor Becker, Commissioner Blumberg, and Solicitor Abbott felt the same, exact way.

Did ya know? Before he was anointed Margate city solicitor, John Scott Abbott was the attorney for Lucy the Elephant. Abbott argued that SLC, (Save Lucy Committee) was the rightful owner of Lucy.

So what changed Abbott’s mind? Margate’s insatiable hunger to develop every possible parcel of land. This grows the Margate ratable/tax base, giving city leadership more money to spend. It also provides for more job creation, targeted to friends of the Mayor-selected, Margate Planning Board.

Future of Margate?
High Rises Allowed Here.

The Save Lucy Committee and Director Rich Hephant have been successfully managing all things Lucy, for decades…with virtually NO taxpayer assistance.


From Press of Atlantic City Archives:

2008: Margate Mayor Mike Becker says he also wants to get an answer to the ownership question. And once that’s settled, he too is open to letting the Lucy committee formally take over as owner. “I’d like to settle it once and for all,” he said. “And if it turns out we can help them and not hurt the city, we’ll move forward with it.”

2008: Blumberg isn’t convinced that the two sides need legal research to settle the old dispute. He’d be open to establishing that the Lucy committee now owns Lucy the Elephant. “They want to be able to say they own it, and I think they’ve earned it,” Blumberg said. “All their hard work is appreciated by the city, and certainly by the current commissioners.”

2008: The Save Lucy committee once threatened to move Lucy. Where would it go? John Scott Abbott answered “Most of the interested parties are in Atlantic City, including several casinos. Many casinos would love to have her. Mentions to include her in The Walk (the city’s retail outlet section). But no official talks with anyone.”

In 2006, SLC atty, John Scott Abbott said this: Documents written since 1970 say the SLC leases the “premises” from the city. “The elephant was given to the nonprofit corporation. That’s the way I understand it,” Abbott said. “The city did not want it at the time. It costs more than peanuts to run Lucy the Elephant. I think it’s silly for the one commissioner (Swift) to think they can break the leases and dissolve the non-profit corporation set up to run Lucy.”

Margate Residents Confront Commissioners

Prime Margate Real Estate in Play.

Save Lucy Committee may cast a vote on a new, proposed lease on July 14. Then, Margate Commissioners could vote to approve terms of a proposed lease on July 18. What happens if Save Lucy votes no? Will Becker, Amodeo & Blumberg evict the SLC and lock up Lucy?

City of Margate demanding 5 seats or more, on 15 member board. Relatives and friends of Mayor Becker to occupy most seats. Margate Commissioners want Helphant removed as director.

Helphant & Friends.

Before he became Lucy’s director, Helfant worked as an electrical inspector for the City of Margate. He was forced to sue several city officials in 1997, claiming discrimination against him because he’s gay. While unsuccessful with the suit, Helfant stayed on the job til November of 2000. Soon after, he went to work for Lucy.

Odd: Helfant noted that the Margate Master Plan doesn’t address Lucy in a historic preservation review that included the Parkway and Marven Gardens.

In 2008, Margate Commissioner Dan Campbell said:

  • ‘Even if research shows Margate rightfully owns Lucy, he’d happily sell Lucy to Save Lucy Committee for $1’
  • ‘It’s better for the elephant itself, for his group (SLC) to be established as the formal owners’

Helfant says a non-profit agency like SLC is in a much better position to get preservation or improvement grants. More than affluent Margate.

If Margate took ownership of the elephant, it becomes more burdensome on the Margate taxpayer. Managing Lucy would absolutely become more expensive to maintain, manage and operate.

Margate taxpayers don’t spend a penny on the management of Lucy. Under City control, that would all change.

Save Lucy Committee: “Helphant has done so much for Lucy in the last six years. Rich has placed Lucy on the world’s stage, providing a source of fame to Margate and its citizens.”

  • Contrary to published reports, Bill Subin, board member of SLC, is NOT attorney for SLC.
  • 1960s: Lucy was condemned by City of Margate. Minutes from wrecking ball.
  • 1969: Save Lucy Committee was formed, raised funds, took control of Lucy and began restoration efforts.
  • Lucy was built in 1881 as a way to attract real estate investors to the area.
  • Helfant, as a 7th grader, sold candy bars and raised money to save Lucy.
  • The monument was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976

21 thoughts on “Will Margate Renew High-Rise Efforts Near Lucy the Elephant?”

  1. Just another plan for the Mayor and his cronies to take control and then do what they want to push through a condo /hotel and stick it to the Margate taxpayers.
    Pay day for another buddy of the Three Amigos at the expanse of the taxpayers.
    This will open the door to change Margate to another tourist town and not the residential town we all love.

  2. Margate is not, and never will be, a residential town. Very few people actually live there full time. That’s the problem. Part-timers have no say in what goes on.

    1. And things like VRBO (and AirBnB) make it even more transient. Then, add all the honky tonk crap like Congo Falls and the water park, and you’ve got a crap seaside town. Margate had a good thing going for a short time, and now the politicians, as usual, have ruined it.

      1. Right, like Congo Falls in the middle of town, which makes Wawa even more congested and dirty. And now the water park. What’s the beach for? Or Ocean City, or AC? They have all that sh#%* there!
        Now they want to make it like some sh#^* carnival town. I don’t get it. That’s what separates Margate from the 💩.

    2. More money for stealing. The level of corruption is so bad, hopefully someday the State and Feds come knocking to take those crooks away.

    3. Why don’t summer residents get a say in what happens? We pay taxes and spend a lot of money keeping our homes beautiful to add to the beauty of Margate. The idea of putting a hotel next to Lucy is ludicrous. That’s already one of the most crowded beaches. Anyone contributing to that idea doesn’t care about Margate.

  3. LUCY is not merely a part of Margate — She IS Margate. An historical landmark (officially!), she has been a part of this community longer than any living resident’s lifetime. If it means adding a few dollars to my taxes, I would certainly be willing to keep her where she is, not replaced by some massive unwanted structure or even in the shadow of one. Ironically, Lucy may be the last relic of ‘old Margate’ that still exists. To lose that piece of history is to lose the very identity of this incredible shore town.

  4. Having grown up in Margate, the one constant IS Lucy. It’s not the same “ shore” that it used to be. The whole landscape has changed to cater to the wealthy “shoobies”. I, too, did fundraising back in the day to save Lucy. SAVE LUCY, PLEASE!

  5. FUNERAL DIRECTOR

    It’s time for Lucy to eat an enormous amount of BEANS, SAUERKRAUT and GARLIC and thus create a HUGE fart wind and direct it toward the Mayor’s office, That place smells anyway. He’s too old and probably can’t smell anymore. My neighbors say he looks and acts like a very old man who is coasting out of life. Someone said he refers to sixth grade as his “senior year” of his education!

  6. Kathleen stroyek-gurman

    Why can’t you leave well enough alone.Lucy Belongs to Margate! Go put your High Rise where the sun doesn’t shine.

  7. Arthur Gurman

    Come on ladies and gentlemen, it’s bad enough that you have a miniature golf course in the middle of the town! Then when your done, you go across the street and get a massage! I mean really!

    Why not put that high rise some place else. Like Longport. They have land.

    Then you can use the money to fix the streets in Margate.

  8. For all you Part Timers who vacation at the shore, You don’t have a say in what Margate and it’s year round locals want! If you don’t like things the way they are then either move or don’t come! It’s sad that the Visitors don’t know it but Margate is the best run city in Atlantic County! The way they act, they have No Respect for the Locals

    1. Since I pay roughly $13,000 in taxes per year I don’t really feel like Mark should be calling me a visitor. I’m a proud Margate homeowner, not a visitor. I own a house. I don’t rent. To call me a visitor and to get out if I don’t like something is disgraceful.

    2. Are you kidding me? Tax payers are tax payers and why should 2nd homeowners not be able to share concerns and have input. You say that if we do not agree with you then leave?
      Just because you are a full time resident does not make your tax dollars more special than anyone else.
      Your opinion is not any better than anyone elses.
      Get out? Are you serious that is so dumb and immature.

      Are you afraid that anyone other than the locals can have a say. Only locals are smart?

      Get past your old time thinking and realize Margate has changed since you were a little boy. America has changed and you either recognize the change and adopt to the new environment around you or you will be miserable.

      Work with the people that pay the taxes so we can all enjoy a great city or you will die a miserable nasty old man. This is not your town but OUR town together.

      If you do not like the change maybe you should leave and I will hire a driver ,the car and pay for the gas to get you out of town.

  9. Here we go again with this sneaky mayor and his two cohorts! These three amigos have tried to slip fast ones on the residents so many times and the friends and family plan voters keep putting them back in office. This is where seasonal residents that pay taxes, just like year round residents, get kicked under the bus!

  10. If the summer owners want a say, then they have to do one if not two of these things. One: if you want a say in what happens in your town, attend the meetings. The meetings are usually scheduled for a day and or time that is not convenient for you because you might be at your primary residence. That is done for that one reason, most specifically, the locals don’t want you here.
    Two: if you are a two person household or more, one of you register to vote in atlantic county for general elections. So now you have two voices. One voice votes at your primary home and another votes here. That will give you more of a say, if you are not only a tax payer, but an actual voting local person. You cannot complain if you are not taking the necessary action. Voting here counts. Show up for their meetings.

    1. Suggesting that those who own 2 homes split their voting rights is an interesting concept and as it applies to Margate, might be a wise one. After all, it was the full time homeowners that voted the current administration into office. Unless it’s just too inconvenient to be actively involved.

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